Second Reading of Bill 172 – FASD and the Education Act

UPDATE:


Bill 172 passed Second Reading! It will now go to a Standing Committee for further consideration. During the Committee stage the specific details of the Bill will be examined, and members of the public may be given the opportunity to appear as a witness or produce a written submission with thoughts on the Bill.

Thank you Sophie Kiwala for your work to get this Bill first introduced! Thank you to MPP Kathleen Wynne. Your speech in the House today was inspiring and uplifting and passionate! Thank you to the members who spoke in support and to all who agreed that students and people with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder deserve this government’s support – no matter what political party one belongs to.

More information will be provided as updates available.


This following information is taken from an email Mary Cunningham, the Chair of the Education Action Group of FASD ONE sent to some community members and groups. I received this through the Kingston FASD Action Network.

However, before I get to that information, I felt it was important to note on December 14, 2017 MPP Sophie Kiwala put forward Bill 191, to amend the Education Act in relation to FASD. In April 2018, it was re-introduced by Sophie as Bill 44 after then premier Wynne prorogued Parliament and “killed” all Bills introduced up to that point. It passed First Reading. Then the Election was called. See links to information on the history at the end of this post.

Which brings us to now MPP Kathleen Wynne.

MPP Kathleen Wynne, (former Premier of Ontario) re-introduced a revised Private Members Bill (first introduced by Sophie Kiwala) on February 18, 2020. She has lobbied, and been successful in moving the Second Reading in the Legislature of Bill 172 – An Act in Relation to FASD from April 2021 to Tuesday, November 3 at 6:00 p.m. To listen to the Second Reading on November 3rd go to Live House Video at about 5:55 p.m.

What to Expect of the  Second Reading: MPP Wynne will speak in support of the Bill. Each recognized party will have a chance to speak afterwards. MPP Wynne will then have a short time to reply. Voting on the Bill will follow.  Because of COVID many MPPs will not be there.

More Information: The following two documents, prepared by Mary K. Cunningham and Jeremy Istead (October 28, 2020) will give you consistent background knowledge on Bill 172. This will allow the Ontario FASD Community to all be “on the same page” about this Bill.  If passed Ontario would be the first Canadian province/territory to pass an FASD Bill like this one. 

What you need to know about Ontario’s Bill 172 

What: Bill 172, entitled an Act in relation to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), is a Private Member’s Bill aimed at improving the experiences and educational outcomes of students living with FASD in Ontario. 

Who: MPP Kathleen Wynne introduced this bill and is bringing it forward for second reading.

Where: The Legislative Assembly of Ontario, at Queen’s Park in Toronto

When: Bill 172 received its First Reading on Tuesday, February 18, 2020
 
Bill 172 will receive its Second Reading on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 at 6 p,m.

To Watch: Go to Live House Video at about 5:50 p.m. – November 3, 2020.

Simple Overview of Bill 172

  1. This Bill requires boards of education to develop policies and guidelines with respect to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). 
  2. Teachers’ colleges and early childhood education programs will be required to provide training with respect to FASD.

What does Second Reading mean? Second Reading allows Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) to debate and vote on the principle behind a bill. MPP Wynne will lead off the debate, and then MPPs from other parties will have a chance to speak on the bill. At the conclusion of the debate the bill will be put to a vote.

What could happen after Second Reading? If Bill 172 passes Second Reading, it will likely be referred to a Standing Committee for further consideration. During the Committee stage the specific details of the bill will be examined, and members of the public may be given the opportunity to appear as a witness or produce a written submission with thoughts on the bill.

If the bill makes it through the Committee stage, it will be eligible to be called for Third Reading. At this stage MPPs will debate and vote on the final form of the bill. If a bill passes Third Reading, it will be given Royal Assent and become law.  

What you can do:

  • read Bill 172 online (or below)
  • watch the debate on November 3rd at 6pm at: Live Video
  • show your support for the bill on social media
  • call or write to your MPP about why you think Bill 172 and other legislation to support people living with FASD is important

Education Statute Law Amendment Act

(Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), 2020

PreambleThere is a high prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) among children in Ontario, and the combination of deficits children with FASD face can make attending school a difficult and often traumatic experience. Despite this, many school boards have no specific strategy for addressing this issue, and educators often lack awareness of FASD. 

It is therefore important that each school board be required to develop a policy addressing FASD, and that teachers and early childhood educators be taught about the signs and symptoms of FASD, as well as how to appropriately accommodate these children in the classroom. 

Implementing these changes is expected to result in better academic performance and an improved school experience for children with FASD and their peers, and to contribute to many other positive social outcomes for children with FASD. 

Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows: 

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS ACT, 2007

1 Section 43 of the Early Childhood Educators Act, 2007 is amended by adding the following subsection: 

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) 

(1.1) A regulation made under paragraph 1.1 of subsection (1) shall provide that a program in early childhood education shall only be accredited if it provides for training with respect to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), including, 

(a) awareness of the signs and symptoms of FASD; and 

(b) strategies to accommodate the needs of children who have diagnosed or suspected FASD.

EDUCATION ACT

2 The Education Act is amended by adding the following Part: 

PART XIII.2 FETAL ALCOHOL SPECTRUM DISORDER (FASD) 

FASD policies and guidelines 

322 (1) Every board shall establish policies and guidelines respecting Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). 

Same 

(2) The policies and guidelines must, 

(a) promote awareness and understanding of FASD; 

(b) include established and emerging best practices to support pupils who have diagnosed or suspected FASD; and 

(c) identify strategies for the identification of pupils who have diagnosed or suspected FASD and for providing accommodation for those pupils. 


Collaboration 

(3) Every board shall facilitate collaboration with parents and FASD Support Groups in undertaking the promotion of awareness and understanding of FASD. 


ONTARIO COLLEGE OF TEACHERS ACT, 1996

3 Section 40 of the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 is amended by adding the following subsection: 

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD

(1.1) A regulation made under paragraph 19 of subsection (1) shall provide that a teacher education program shall only be accredited if it provides for training with respect to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), including, 
2 (a)awareness of the signs and symptoms of FASD; and
  (b)strategies to accommodate the needs of students who have diagnosed or suspected FASD.

COMMENCEMENT AND SHORT TITLE

Commencement 

4 This Act comes into force on the second September 1 after the day it receives Royal Assent. 

Short title 

5 The short title of this Act is the Education Statute Law Amendment Act (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), 2020.

Media Release issued after the First Reading

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 20, 2020

Statement from MPP Kathleen Wynne regarding Bill 172 Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in Ontario Schools:

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) refers to a range of conditions which occur in individuals who suffer permanent brain injury as a result of prenatal alcohol exposure. Individuals living with FASD and their families endure many challenges, and one of the most significant is navigating the education system.

Bill 172 would require school boards to develop policies regarding FASD which, in addition to promoting awareness and understanding of FASD, would require the establishment of best practices and the creation of strategies for the identification of students who have diagnosed or suspected FASD, and for providing accommodation for those pupils. The bill would also require that teachers and early childhood educators be taught strategies to accommodate the needs of students who have diagnosed or suspected FASD, in addition to an awareness of the signs and symptoms.

The combination of deficits children with FASD face can make attending school a tremendously difficult experience. However, many school boards do not have policies addressing FASD, while teachers and early childhood educators often lack awareness of FASD and of strategies to accommodate the needs of these children.

Recent research indicates that 2-3% of 7-9 year old students attending school in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) meet the diagnostic criteria for FASD. FASD is also estimated to be more prevalent in Canada than autism spectrum disorder and Down syndrome. Despite the high rate of prevalence, many children with FASD are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, due in large part to various diagnostic challenges and the stigma associated with FASD. Meanwhile, those who have been diagnosed still encounter educational professionals who lack an adequate understanding and awareness of FASD. As a result, children with FASD are frequently saddled with unrealistic expectations and receive insufficient support, leading to poor school outcomes for them personally and often a disrupted classroom experience for their peers as well.

This is an issue that merits considerable and immediate attention, which is why I have introduced legislation to address FASD in Ontario schools. In recent weeks, I have had the pleasure of meeting with many stakeholders, including individuals living with FASD, parents and support groups, FASD advocates, and educational professionals. I have received their feedback and applied it to my private member’s bill, entitled the Education Statute Law Amendment Act (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), 2020.

School boards, teachers, and early childhood educators can create an environment in which students with FASD can succeed, if they have the necessary knowledge and understanding of FASD, and if there are policies in place to address it. If passed, Bill 172 would lead to better outcomes for students with FASD. I encourage my fellow MPPs to support the bill, and I hope that through its introduction we can raise awareness of FASD across the province.

For more information:
Wendy Weston – WWeston@liberal.ola.org

Supportive Statements

“Children living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) experience incredible challenges in the educational system. MPP Kathleen Wynne‘s Private Member’s Bill has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of children and adults living with FASD, their families and caregivers, and the communities in which they live. Through improving learning outcomes, this bill has the potential to positively impact future rates of homelessness, drug use, addictions, and conflict with the law. By increasing awareness among educators, the bill will help children with FASD move through our education system, leading to many additional positive social outcomes in the future.” – Sophie Kiwala, former MPP for Kingston and the Islands

“The challenges that families raising children with FASD must navigate on a daily basis in our education system are a major source of stress and family disruption. We need to change the narrative from one of exclusion and conflict to one of support and understanding. Children with FASD can and will learn in an environment that recognizes their individual strengths and capabilities. They learn in different ways and at different rates compared to typically developing children, and it’s only through an awareness that this is a child with a brain injury, that we can change the story from one of struggle to one of success.” – James N. Reynolds, PhD – Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen’s University, and Chief Scientific Officer of the Kids Brain Health Network

“FASD is the result of permanent brain damage. While it cannot be cured, children with FASD can succeed in school if educators are trained to provide modern brain-based neurobehavioural supports, provided those supports are made available to students. I believe that MPP Kathleen Wynne’s bill is an important first step to a brain-
based neurobehavioural approach to education in Ontario which will support the needs of students with FASD, as well as those with brain-based learning differences in general.” – Mary Cunningham – Owner of KWC FASD Consulting, member of the FASD Ontario Network of Expertise and head of its Education Action Group, and has also had the privilege of parenting a person with FASD.


“Children with FASD are scattered throughout many agencies, programmes, and services that attempt to meet their needs, often with limited resources and understanding. However, every child with FASD is in school. When we develop policies and strategies designed specifically to meet their needs in the education system we will reach 100 percent of kids with FASD. The long-term benefits of this Bill will be immeasurable.” – Len Whalen – Coordinator of the FASD Parent Action Group of Southeastern Ontario, and member of the Special Education Advisory Committee for the Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board.

“FASD is estimated to affect more than 500,000 people in Ontario and is more prevalent than Autism, Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and Cerebral Palsy combined. Despite this, FASD is the least known and supported neurological disorder in Ontario. MPP Wynne’s bill represents a critical first step to promote greater awareness and understanding of FASD, and the focus on training for educational professionals will benefit the more than 60,000 children estimated to have FASD in Ontario. The Ontario FASD Action Network (OFAN) sincerely hopes that all MPPs support this Bill.” – Mark Courtepatte – Ontario FASD Action Network (OFAN)

“On behalf of the Toronto FASD Network, I’d like to thank MPP Wynne for introducing this bill. We will encourage all City of Toronto MPPs to support it, knowing what a difference it will make in the lives of students affected by FASD and their families.” – Sharron Richards, Co-chair of the Toronto FASD Network

If you are in Ontario, please send an email to your local Member of Provincial Parliament, asking them to support this Second Reading.

Current MPP List

If you would like to read the history of the Bill, check out these posts:

Ontario FASD Community: We Need You!

Ten Days to Make FASD History in Ontario

Bill 191: Still waits for a 2nd Reading

April Fools for FASD?

What a week for FASD in Ontario

When Will Ontario Take Decisive Action to Help with FASD

3 thoughts on “Second Reading of Bill 172 – FASD and the Education Act

  1. Ab says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I didn’t realize this second reading is happening. How amazing would it be if it went to a third reading and then became law. The part around teacher training is especially so important and needed!

    Liked by 1 person

    • our sacred breath says:

      Yeah I only just received an email yesterday about it! I think because Wynne was trying to get it moved to an earlier date this one was presented to her and so she went with it. Doesn’t give much time for awareness…. but we have a few days!

      Liked by 1 person

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